Should we be worried about Ebola? That’s the question on the minds of many Americans given the first documented case on U.S. soil. And now there is a second possible case, someone having contact with Thomas Duncan, the first U.S. case of Ebola. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reassures us, “I have no doubt that we’ll stop this in its tracks in the U.S.” President Obama also 
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The unexpected death of Joan Rivers at 81 years of age occurred during a routine outpatient procedure at an accredited doctor-owned surgery center. Although there are few confirmed reports of what actually occurred, what we do know is that media-fed information can resonate amongst the general public -- and our patients. Concerns have been raised about the outpatient setting, patient selection, and types of surgeries that are performed. As a result, the responsibility ...

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Dr. Danielle Ofri has an important piece in the New York Times: "The Physical Exam as Refuge." As an outpatient physician, she makes the case that the physical examination provides a special time for the physician to focus entirely on the patient. Is examination time the refuge for the harried physician, and the opportunity to engage the patient in extended conversation about their condition? While I did outpatient medicine for ...

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There are now so many rules and regulations in medicine that it is difficult for doctors to express any individuality. Like the burgers at McDonald's that are constructed in such a way that they taste the same regardless of your locale, doctors are expected to behave similarly when confronted with similar circumstances.  Or at least that is how the proponents of algorithmic medicine see it. In addition, electronic health record systems create uniformity by enforcing ...

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We’re born into our bodies, and we take that for granted. Our first job is to take a breath, something we’ll hopefully do many millions of times and never think about.  That first breath changes everything: Our blood starts to flow through our heart and lungs in a different way and for the first time we taste a new world. Before we’re born, all our needs are met via an artery and ...

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Faxes! Who still uses faxes? The medical industry does. Here is a picture from just today: 27 faxes received and about 20 sent, and that is only counting after noon. Some days are worse, with up to 40 faxes to handle in our small medical practice. Who still uses faxes? The medical industry does. On the left are the 27 faxes received: We use e-faxing, so they arrive as pdfs. On ...

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Pretty much on a weekly basis I come across an article about how awful life is as a practicing physician. Articles focus on how unhappy physicians are with their jobs, with their hours, with their pay or with health care reform. After almost a decade of practice, the fact is that I like my job. Is it perfect? Absolutely not: quite far from it, in fact. There are certainly many times when ...

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The New York Times has reported on a woman who wanted to deliver vaginally and claims she was forced to have a repeat C-section (her third C-section) against her will. I can’t comment on the veracity of her claims, however a forced C-section is never, ever acceptable. It doesn’t mater if the fetus has an agonal rhythm (is visibly dying on the monitor), as an OB your role is to ...

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As a family doctor, I had the privilege of sitting down at the hospital recently with Mr. M, a longstanding patient of mine, and his family. Mr. M is a college-educated engineer, struggling near the end of his life with end-stage kidney disease, dialysis, severe congestive heart failure and crippling COPD. And he was pretty down about it. In the hospital, a critical care physician, a pulmonologist, a nephrologist, and a cardiologist ...

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The dark underbelly of health care is becoming all too visible now. Fresh faces in neatly pressed white coats are in the halls.  Eager.  Enthusiastic.  Clearly very bright.  All hoping for a moment, an experience, an encounter that makes all their hard work worth it.  Surely they'll have one, but not before the thousands of keyboard clicks, the mandatory lectures, rounds and lots of lengthy, lonely call nights. He was a doctor ...

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